Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka leaving the club on Thursday came as little surprise to most observers who have watched the team of late.
The decision was a mutual one between the boss and club owner Steve Gibson, according to the latter anyway.
The north east side have been slowly but surely heading towards the bottom of the table. A run of ten Premier League games without a win suggested that the team were only going in one direction under the Spaniard.
Defensive style the reason for sacking
First and foremost I have to say that Aitor Karanka did a very good job in guiding the team back to the Premier League. Boro’s promotion was based on a very sound defensive foundation. Boro have continued to remain relatively solid this season, despite promotion.
However, whereas Boro could score enough goals to win games last season playing Karanka’s pragmatic style of football they have struggled to find the net in the top-flight.
Their scoring record of late has been shocking in the top-flight. The north east club have scored a league low of just 19 goals this season in 27 games. They have found it particularly hard to score in recent top-flight games and have failed to score in nine of their last 13 top-flight outings.
It is all well and good having sound defensive foundations. However, at some point, you have to be slightly braver and attack the opposition. Keeping clean sheets alone will not win games.
Boro have some talented attacking players such as Alvaro Negredo, Gaston Ramirez and Adam Traore in their squad, so they are not completely bereft of players capable of scoring or creating goals. These players are no good if the team are set-up to just defend and not to get beaten.
Alarming slump in recent months
Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson is known as a guy who gives bosses slightly more patience than other owners. Last season there was reports that Karanka had quit his job. However, the Spaniard stayed and the club have stuck with him.
However, a run of just one win in 13 league games has proven enough to see the former Real Madrid centre-back leave his role. For much of the campaign, Boro have looked comfortable in midtable. It’s only in the last few months that the north east side have been dragged towards the relegation zone.
Following that poor recent run of results, Boro now find themselves 19th in the table and three points from safety. It’s been a gradual slump that Karanka failed to correct. The Spaniard’s lack of football bravery has cost him his job at Boro.
Who next few Middlesbrough?
For me, Middlesbrough do not have a terrible squad of players. There was promise in their early Premier League performances this season, so the next boss that comes in will not be working with terrible resources.
As always a number of high-profile names have been linked with the job. The current favourite for the job on a permanent basis is interim boss Steve Agnew at odds of 6/4. While the likes of Nigel Pearson, Guus Hiddink and Steve McClaren are not far behind the current incumbent in the betting.
Whoever comes in needs to make an immediate impact. Boro’s recent slump in form needs to be brought to an end and quickly if they are to avoid the drop.
The north east side face a tough test at home against Manchester United on Sunday lunchtime. The Red Devils are unbeaten in 17 Premier League matches, so represent a major test for the north east side.
However, after the United game, I am sure everybody will be focussed on finding a long-term replacement for Karanka. There is no doubt that any replacement for the Spanish boss will have to be slightly less pragmatic if Boro are to avoid the drop.
Hopefully, Karanka will also learn from his mistakes and realises one of the basics of the game, if you don’t attack you don’t win games it’s as simple as that.
Where Middlesbrough right to sack Aitor Karanka?
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